While we have already covered what to do if you are pulled over by police or if you are arrested, not all police encounters are so cut and dry. In fact, police will often try to informally question a suspect prior to placing someone under arrest, knowing that many people won’t request a lawyer until they are actually put in handcuffs. That is why it is so important to know your rights when dealing with the police during any given situation. Vista criminal defense attorney Peter M. Liss wants the public to be educated about police interactions so those charged with crimes will not suffer from a lack of knowledge. That is why he compiled these tips for interacting with police officers:
- Watch what you say. Anything you say to police can be used against you, even if you had not yet been read your Miranda rights or were not even a suspect at the time. You might be inclined to help police with an investigation, but always remember that your statements could be turned against you. That’s why you should always insist on speaking with your Vista defense lawyer before answering their questions. If you do speak with the police though, remember that you have the right to stop speaking with them at any time.
- Offer your ID. Police can ask for your identification even if they can’t force you to speak with them. Answer questions directly related to your identity and provide your driver’s license or state ID card if requested, but do not offer any additional information outside of your identity.
- Ask if you are being detained. If a police officer keeps trying to question you, you have the right to leave if you are not being detained. Feel free to ask if you are free to go or if you are being detained at any time. If you are free to go, do so. If he says you are being detained, then invoke your right to speak with a Vista criminal attorney. If you want to help an investigation and are not being detained, you can always get the officer’s phone number and then speak with your lawyer before calling him back to discuss the matter.
- Never consent to a search or let police into your home. Unless an officer has a warrant or believes there are exigent circumstances in play, he cannot search you or your property unless you consent, though there are slightly different rules when it comes to vehicles. An officer may search a vehicle incident to arrest of people inside the vehicle, if he sees contraband inside or is going to impound the vehicle. If an officer requests consent to search your vehicle, home or person you should refuse until he returns with a warrant or until you have spoken with a Vista defense attorney. Do not invite an officer into your home without your lawyer present as anything in plain sight can be used as evidence against you.
If you have any questions about your rights when speaking with the police or believe your rights were violated by police, please call Vista criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
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